Kart action sizzles at new Sulphur City Sprint meeting

The action on track sizzled under a cloudless blue sky and in searing hot summer conditions at the KartSport Rotorua kart club’s new Sulphur City Sprint kart meeting over the Feb 13-14 weekend.

The two-day meeting at the KartSport Rotorua International Raceway west of the city hosted the opening rounds of both the ProKart Series and the new ROK Cup New Zealand series, with support from a range of senior and junior classes.

Some of the best racing in the senior ranks came from the combined 6-speed gearbox/125cc KZ2 class-based ProKart Series races, with young guns Simeon Woolsey and Aaron Wilson leading from the front, Jared MacKenzie, Graeme Lambert and Steve Brown battling it out for Masters class honours, and Aarron Cunningham providing defending class champion Garry Cullum with some serious competition in KZ2 Restricted.

Wilson was the pace-setter and looked set for a class clean sweep after qualifying quickest and winning both heats and the Pre-Final only to pull out of the Final – leaving victory to Woolsey – with what he thought was an overheating engine.

As it turned out it was a problem with the gauge not the engine, though because ProKart Series points are awarded across the heats, Pre-Final and Final, Wilson still ended up second for the round.

Masters class ace Steve Brown was also left pondering what might have been after a tangle with Jared MacKenzie in the Final.

Brown pipped MacKenzie for pole in qualifying but it was MacKenzie who won the heats, Pre Final and Final. Brown was never far behind in second, and in the Final ran up the back of MacKenzie’s kart when the latter missed a gear.

MacKenzie was able to stay on the track but Brown spun off, leaving Graeme Lambert second, Mark Lane third and Mark Wheeler fourth.

After years running at or near the front in the Rotax Max Heavy category, Aarron Cunningham proved a quick learner in his debut in the KZ2 Restricted class, qualifying quickest and swapping heat wins with defending class title holder Garry Cullum.

Cullum won the Pre Final from Cunningham but any chance Cunningham had of a first up Final win were dashed when he received a time penalty for a start line infringement, putting him back behind Cullum in the results.

The opening round of the inaugural ROK Cup New Zealand series also impressed with Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North qualifying quickest and winning the first Vortex Mini ROK class heat, Pre-Final and Final to top score from class South Island champion William Exton from Picton, Thomas Boniface from New Plymouth and local ace Blake Evans.

There was depth as well as pace in the 14-strong field as well with impressive performances from Louis Redshaw, Clay Osborne and Mitchell Frazer.

The Cadet ROK class also produced some outstanding racing with fastest qualifier, class North Island champion Luke Thompson, winning both the Pre-Final and Final, the latter from Ryan Bell from the Bay of Plenty and Louis Sharp from Christchurch.

With Thompson moving up to the Mini ROK class after the next round, however, he was not entered for the series in the Cadet ROK class, meaning Ryan Bell took the series’ round win from Sharp, Liam Sceats from Auckland and Logan Manson from Palmerston North.

Again, the depth of talent in the class is as great as it is in the Mini ROK category with special mention going to young Nelson driver Bo Hill who set the second quickest lap time in qualifying on his first visit to the Rotorua track.

Other class winners on the day were Taylor Harte from Tauranga in Rotax DD2, local veteran Darren Aislabie in Open, Chris King in Rotax Max Light, Teddy Bassick in Rotax Max Heavy and Joseph Terry in Rotax Junior.

The Rotorua meeting marked the beginning of a busy national level season for New Zealand karters with the KartSport Manawatu club in Palmerston North hosting the opening two-rounds (double header-style) of the new-look Giltrap Group Rotax Max Challenge of New Zealand at the annual Trans-Tasman meeting at Manawatu Toyota Raceway this weekend (February 20-21) and KartSport Wellington hosting the third round of the 2015/16 Bayley’s Wellington Provincial Karting Association (WPKA) Goldstar Series at Kaitoke’s Wynn’s Raceway on Sunday March 06.


ProKart Series
Points after Rnd 1
1. Simeon Woolsey 40 points; 2. Aaron Wilson 38; 3. Logan Brown 36; 4. Rhys Tinney 35; 5. Connor Westbury 34.

KZ2 Masters
Points after Rnd 1
1. Jared MacKenzie 40 points; 2. Graeme Lambert 38; 3 Steve Brown 36; 4. Mark Lane 35; 6. Mark Wheeler 34

KZ2 Restricted
Points after Rnd 1
1. Garry Cullum 40 points; 2. Aarron Cunningham 38; 3=. Shaun Curran & Andrew Jackson 36; 5. Gerhard Benadie 34; 6. Connor Adam 33

Vortex Mini ROK
1. Jackson Rooney; 2. William Exton; 3. Thomas Boniface; 4. Blake Evans; 5. Louis Redshaw; 6. Clay Osborne
ROK Cup New Zealand Points after Rnd 1
1. Jackson Rooney (Man) 50 points; 2. William Exton (Marl) 47; 3. Thomas Boniface (Tar) 45; 4. Blake Evans (Rot) 44; 5. Louis Redshaw (Man) 43; 6. Clay Osborne (Ham) 42.

Cadet ROK
1. Luke Thompson; 2. Ryan Bell; 3. Louis Sharp ; 4. Liam Sceats; 5. Sebastian Manson; 6. Hayden Bakkerus
ROK Cup New Zealand Points after Rnd 1
1. Ryan Bell (BoP) 50 points; 2. Louis Sharp (ChCh) 47; 3. Liam Sceats (Mt Well) 45; 4. Logan Manson (Man) 44; 5. Mason Potter (Mt Well) 43; 6. Bo Hill (Nel) 42.

1. Taylor Harte; 2. Fulton Penny; 3. Sam Waddell; 4. Alex Newlove

1. Darren Aislabie

Rotax Max Light
1. Chris King; 2. Campbell Joyes; 3. Suvarn Naidoo; 4. Sam Hunter; 5. Caleb Huston; 6. Marin Vujcich

Rotax Max Heavy
1. Teddy Bassick; 2. Darren Walker; 3. Rohan Knowles; 4. Ashton Baird

Rotax Junior
1. Joseph Terry; 2. Adam Bell; 3. Fynn Osborne; 4. Brandon Lambert; 5. Cameron Hoskins; 6. Brock Gilchrist

2016 ProKart Series
Rnd 1: Sulphur City Sprint Rotorua Feb 13-14
Rnd 2: Citrus Te Puke Apr 16-17
Rnd 3: Glen Tremain Snr Memorial Tokoroa May 14-15
Rnd 4: Winter Cup Hamilton June 11-12

2016 ROK Cup New Zealand
Rnd 1: Sulphur City Sprint Rotorua Feb 13-14
Rnd 2: NZ Sprint Champs Hamilton Mar 25-27
Rnd 3 Option 1: WPKA Taranaki June 04-05
Rnd 3 Option 2: Sunbelts Nelson/Blenheim June 04-05
Rnd 4 NZ Schools Champs Taranaki Jul 16-17

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